Running a small business can sometimes make you feel a little bit like a one-man (or woman!) band – as well as performing all of the main tasks which keep your business afloat, there’s all of the other functions which bigger businesses have whole departments for. Things like payroll, staff scheduling, stock management and customer service all fall to you, and it’s likely that you’re not an expert in any of those areas.
We want to talk to you about the latter, and go through five of the biggest customer service faux pas that small businesses often make, to help you to get on track and avoid making the same mistakes in the future:
Being Too Strident
We know that the old saying “the customer is always right” is a bit of a cliche, and can leave small businesses open to unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of your good nature. However, treating every customer complaint with suspicion and defensiveness can look really bad for your company. Try to deal with every customer interaction openly, and take a fair look at the issues before deciding that someone is trying to rip you off! It’s also worth bearing in mind that customers will tell their friends about both good and bad customer service.
Lack of Communication
If you’re selling a product or service, people are going to want to be able to communicate with you, an issue which becomes even trickier if all of your business is conducted online. If you don’t have a bricks-and-mortar shop or office, you need to make sure that you make time to reply to emails and messages via social media. Customers can be very discouraged by a lack of communication, so if you know you’re not available all day, create a message on your contact form which gives people a timeframe for reply, to help manage their expectations.
There’s an old saying that we like, here at Essex Marketing Services, which goes “it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver” – i.e. make sure you give people realistic expectations of a timeframe. Telling a client that a project will be finished next Friday and knowing you’re going to have to rush to finish it will leave you pushed for time and leave your customer disappointed if you fail to deliver on time. Give yourself some wiggle room so that you’re not constantly disappointing people.
Using Too Much Jargon
We see this a lot with small business, which are often very niche and run by people with passion, but using too much ‘industry speak’ can feel very off-putting and impenetrable to a client. Often, people are coming to you for a product or service because it’s something they can’t do themselves, so remembering that you’re speaking to a layman who probably doesn’t have your level of expertise is important (equally though, don’t assume everyone is an idiot as this is just as bad!)
Not Knowing Your Stuff
We know it can be tricky to remember every transaction your business has made, especially if you’re lucky enough to be busy. However, there’s little more frustrating as a customer than calling a business to speak to them about a product or service they’ve provided, only to feel like they have no memory of it at all. This is where keeping comprehensive customer records is important, so that you can go back and quickly find the transaction that the customer wants to discuss. Making a customer feel like they’re remembered goes a long way.